Fighting for ecological justice

Assisting Farmers and Expanding the Impact

Agus Sumantri’s farmer group, a member of Kaoem Telapak, won a product contest for Small and Medium Enterprises at the Central Lampung Regency level on Tuesday, 20 September 2022.

The local Regional Government organizes the competition. They challenge participants to showcase their superior products from upstream to downstream. From forest products, Agus’s group showcased coffee. In the horticulture group, they showcase sugar palms. In the herbal category, there is herbal medicine made from ginger. The Agus group brought peanut brittle and banana chips for the snacks category. “Unfortunately, we didn’t bring the banana stem chips. If we did, we might have won first place,” said Agus, laughing.

Agus’s mentoring work has been going on for 15 years. Agus is active in the Mainstay Farmers and Fishermen Contact (KTNA) as Chairperson in Pabian District, Central Lampung. KTNA is an independent organization in Indonesia with a social orientation in the agricultural sector, based on agribusiness and the environment in rural areas. KTNA has many levels. There are at the national, provincial, city, district, to sub-district levels.

Intense activity with KTNA gave Agus the idea to process non-timber forest products. Many of his fellow activists at KTNA said that if Agus were from the western part of Central Lampung, he would understand forestry. “The basics are forestry. That’s why I manage forestry affairs, forest plants,” said Agus. He also considered bringing these commodities to the public scene, important places, or exhibitions.

Agus Sumantri, member of Kaoem Telapak from Lampung

In 2019, the first products brought by Agus were Honey and Kopi Pinang at the Kalianda Festival, South Lampung. A bicycle tour event that succeeded in attracting hundreds of bicycle enthusiasts to become participants. From there, the door for Agus’ promotion began to open. “From there, it expanded. Goods must continue to be in stock,” he said.

Three products continue to be developed by Agus. The products are areca coffee, brown sugar, and palm sugar. Areca Coffee already has its fans. Betel coffee has become a symbol of the pride of Kampung Pekandangan, where Agus lives in Central Lampung.

Agus admits that developing Kopi Pinang takes work. Agus has many challenges to face. One of them is the matter of licensing. To take care of the Home Industry Production Permit (PIRT), Agus had to prepare himself for two years, and even then, he failed. But he did not break the charcoal. Agus tries again, and in 2022 he gets it too. “It’s a very long process,” he said.

Agus cooperates with the company if he still needs to obtain a permit. Agus sells his betel coffee to unbranded factories. The company often buys coffee from Agus after knowing from laboratory results that the coffee from Pekandangan Village is the best. However, the long-term impact is that many consumers need to recognize Agus’s brand of Areca coffee. The branding of the product could be more assertive. Although, the company admits that the product comes from a group of farmers from Pekandangan Village.

Agus hopes to expand his marketing network for betel nut coffee through minimarkets. But there is another challenge that he must face, namely, the issue of packaging. To enter the minimarket market network, besides the history and traceability of the product, it is clear. Product packaging is also a concern. “The standard packaging is aluminium foil. Our product already uses it, but we must print the product logo on the packages, not paste it,” he said.